Senator Godswill Akpabio has warned that it is not in the interest of the people of the Niger Delta for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to be sold as being proposed by presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Akpabio’s statement came after Atiku, speaking at a town hall meeting with ward, local government and state party leaders in Kaduna state on Wednesday, restated his resolve to ensure that the NNPC is privatised if he becomes president.
According to Atiku, the NNPC has failed to serve the purpose for which it was established in 1977, but had been benefiting a few people at the expense of the masses. He said selling-off the corporation and all the three refineries is the best option for the country.
But Akpabio who addressed journalists in Abuja argued that “the sale of NNPC on its own simply means that the Niger Deltans are going to be divested of not just their properties, not just the water that they fish in, but the fact that they will become tenants in their lands for the next 50 to 100 years. And people will come from outside, maybe friends of the government, and possess their land.”
He continued: “What does the NNPC have? Is it the building? What NNPC controls is the oil of the Niger Delta, oil wells, oil fields and all those things come together with the land. I don’t see anybody from the South South or any Niger Deltan, who will agree that the same way we sold out Nigeria Airways and we became a laughing stock in the comity of states in Africa is the same way NNPC should be sold.
“We in the Niger Delta are very apprehensive. I don’t think that there is any person in the South South who will go and vote for PDP. Even some of them are trying to purchase votes because when you look at the major policy document of the PDP today, they are talking about selling the NNPC.”
He posited that privatisation has been disastrous in Nigeria in the past.
He said: “Look at Kenya Airways, Ethopia Airline, Ghana Airline, South African Airways and Nigeria has no single plane now called its own,” he lamented. “We sold out our Aluminium Smelter Company in Ikot Abasi, that provided thousands of jobs and today that place is totally bare with over 690MW of electricity.
“We sold out Oku Iboku Paper Mill in Akwa Ibom and our people are there jobless. That massive structure is a waste. All those things combined are things that frighten us when somebody talks about the sale of NNPC.”
Akpabio, who is the National Coordinator, Presidential Support Committee, then urged the people of the South South to cast their vote for President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday because “the President has shown that he can give what belongs to Niger Delta to Niger Delta.”
He went on to reel out what he described as the commendable achievements of the president.
His words: “The reality is that this president has done very well considering the fact that he was able to take Nigeria out of recession.
“He met ongoing projects on ground, such as the airports and the railways. He completed and put them to use. Nigerians are clamoring for change, better health care, better educational facilities and all those things cannot happen when you spend almost 80 percent of resources on recurring expenses like pension, salary arrears.
“So we must commend the President and of course, if you take a look at what is happening on the Lagos-Ibadan railway, you will be very impressed. Take a look at the Abuja-Kano railway, some people now travel with rail to the North.
“The power sector has improved from 2,500MW to 7000MW. So many things are visible and the enabling environment is there in terms of law and order. The fight against corruption has really been intensified and the good thing is that it has now become a deterrent to any public official that yes…, if you go out of your way to move your pocket forward instead of your country or state, you will be held accountable.”
Akpabio commended Buhari for ensuring that states got back the Paris Club refnds and monies spent on federal roads
“We tried everything under the PDP. We never had that money and I was a Governor and the FG was owing my state over 145 Billion on federal roads and the building of prisons and other things I had to intervene. I dualized federal roads, built airport and today, federal government is refunding those monies to the state.
“If you see a government that has shown sincerity, it simply means that we are now talking about a question of integrity and a question of postulation. We are postulating that if you bring in a government that will sell your father’s land, that will sell your oil wells and sell the waters that you use in fishing, then I can conclude that there is no alternative to President Buhari,” the former Senate minority leader concluded.